Friends remember McDonogh graduate

Freshman collapsed while playing volleyball

  • Catherine "Catie" Carnes, 18, collapsed while playing volleyball during her first week at Mount St. Mary's University.
Catherine "Catie" Carnes, 18, collapsed while…
September 03, 2010|By Liz F. Kay, The Baltimore Sun

Barely three months ago, Catherine "Catie" Carnes and her friends were celebrating their graduation from McDonogh School.

Now her classmates are heading back to the school to remember her.

The 18-year-old was playing a friendly game of volleyball at Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg on Wednesday when she collapsed, relatives said. She was taken to Gettysburg Hospital in Pennsylvania, where she died of a blood clot in the lung.

"She was the light of my life," said Denise Carnes, her mother. "She was everything to me. She was the best child."

McDonogh has invited members of her graduating class back to campus over this Labor Day weekend to remember Ms. Carnes, who played volleyball and rode on the equestrian team at the private school in Owings Mills. A funeral service will be conducted at 11 a.m. Wednesday at St. James Episcopal Church, 3100 Monkton Road, Monkton.

Ms. Carnes grew up in Monkton and attended McDonogh from kindergarten until she graduated in May. She began her freshman year at Mount St. Mary's last week.

A future biology major, she planned to continue riding during college, according to Streett Moore, McDonogh's director of riding. Mount St. Mary's doesn't have a volleyball program, so she planned to play in an intramural league, her mother said.

Family and friends described Ms. Carnes as sweet, considerate and always smiling.

"She was almost always happy, an energetic, bright young lady — and pretty, to boot," said Pat Carnes, one of her grandmothers.

She had an affinity for horses with challenges such as health problems, and competed with them even though it might have decreased her chances of winning. "She was always fascinated with sort of the underdog horse," Mr. Moore said. "Most kids wouldn't even want to start fooling with a horse with an underlying condition."

Ms. Carnes chose to ride a horse named Maestro that had been donated to the school after several stomach operations for colic, the director said. Another of her horses had only one eye, her mother said.

"She did try hard and won plenty of ribbons," Mr. Moore said. "But she was more of the type of person who was rooting for everybody."

Ms. Carnes had juvenile diabetes, but Mr. Moore said she never complained about it, even when her condition was affecting her performance.

"She never let it slow her down," her mother said. She said her daughter was in the fifth grade when she was diagnosed on a Friday, released from the hospital the following Monday and played with her lacrosse team the next Saturday.

Mr. Moore said Ms. Carnes was more considerate than most teenagers, helping younger children handle their ponies.

"She always thanked me after every lesson, and at the end of show days she would shake hands and thank me," Mr. Moore said. Before leaving the barn each day, he said, she would ask if there was another horse that needed exercising or if anything else that needed to be done.

"She definitely was very concerned about making sure everyone was taken care of," Mr. Moore said. "That's just the way she was."

"All the little girls over at the barn just loved her," Denise Carnes said.

Before Ms. Carnes left for college, she took her collection of stuffed toy horses to the barn to give to the younger riders. She also volunteered with a therapeutic riding program in Westminster.

"She was amazing, the way she could relate to people regardless of their age," Pat Carnes said. "She fit in everywhere."

Her mother agreed: "She had layers of friends."

The animal lover had a chocolate-and-yellow Labrador retriever, two guinea pigs and mice as pets, Pat Carnes said.

Libet Ottinger, McDonogh's junior class dean, baby-sat for Ms. Carnes' father and aunts.

"My sense of Catie comes from my love of the family," Ms. Ottinger said. "She was such a bright light in part because she came from a family that was so loving and caring and fun and wonderful."

Ms. Ottinger, whose responsibilities are similar to those of a guidance counselor, said students have been streaming into her office, recalling how kind the student had been or how she taught them how to serve.

"This is somebody who never entered a room without a smile," she said.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.